Biosecurity Matters, Issue 2, 2016

​​​​​​​​​​​​Biosecurity Matters

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Biosecurity awards are the bee's knees

Trevor Weatherhead (centre) receiving the David Banks Biosecurity Lifetime Achievement Award 2016 with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Ms Lyn O’Connell.

A bee keeper who helps shield Australian bees from pests that devastated bee populations worldwide has won a lifetime achievement award at the 2016 Australian Biosecurity Awards.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, presented the awards at the ceremony held during the ABARES Outlook 2016 conference in Canberra in March.

The David Banks Biosecurity Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Trevor Weatherhead of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council for his 30 years of service to Australian biosecurity and the beekeeping industry. His work helps Australia remain one of the last regions on the planet free of the destructive Varroa mite.

In the industry category, winners of the 2016 Biosecurity Awards were:

  • Livestock Biosecurity Network
  • Northern Territory Apiary Industry
  • Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics
  • Mike Carson, eBay.

Continue reading about the Biosecurity awards

Mr Carson was recognised for his work in targeting the world’s largest online market – eBay – to prevent the importation of restricted plants and seeds into Australia. By directly targeting suppliers, he put in place new ways to block the sale of prohibited items to Australian customers.

The winners of the government category were:

  • AUSVETPLAN Technical Review Group
  • I-Lyn Loo, Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia
  • National Banana Freckle Eradication Program, NT Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries.

Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary, Lyn O’Connell, said the awards are a chance to recognise and thank those who have made an outstanding contribution to protecting the health of Australia’s plants and animals.

“This year recipients were recognised for their initiative in developing strategies and systems that enhance our capabilities to respond to an emergency disease outbreak should they occur, and those who fought against the establishment of invasive pests,” Ms O’Connell said.

Find out more about the winners on our Australian Biosecurity Awards webpage.

Preparing for our new Biosecurity Act

(From left to right) Kimberley Britt, Stephanie McGrath and Felicity Wood from the Biosecurity Legislation Implementation Office at the Industry Forum in Canberra in February.

The Biosecurity Act 2015 replaces the more than century-old Quarantine Act 1908 from 16 June 2016. Broad public consultation on the draft regulations closed on 24 March 2016. Remaining delegated legislation such as the Goods Determination and the Reportable Biosecurity Incidents Determination are still available for public consideration and will remain open until 17 May 2016.

Implementation of the Biosecurity Act 2015 is a large body of work and it’s important that we get it right. Clear communication and consistent engagement with clients and stakeholders is our goal, to ensure everyone understands the changes and can comply with the legislation from day one.

Besides public exposure of the draft regulations, the department held an industry forum in February inviting peak bodies to discuss the new legislation and to tell us what they would like included in a series of nation-wide information sessions for industry clients and stakeholders.

Continue reading about preparing for our new Biosecurity Act

These information sessions were launched in March and will continue to run across the country into April. Find out more details about previous sessions.

The information sessions are just one aspect of what the department is doing to prepare you for these changes. A Biosecurity Act Interactive Learning to​ol is now available on the department’s website. Also, the department plans to run a series of targeted webinars on the new legislation in the coming months.

You can find out more about the Biosecurity Act and how it may affect you by visiting the department’s website. To make sure you receive the latest information about the Biosecurity Act and supporting practices and procedures, please subscribe to the biosecurity legislation distribution list, email New Biosecurity Legislation or phone 1800 040 629.

Keep an eye out for the next special edition of Biosecurity Matters which will focus entirely on the commencement of the Act.

Networking with tomorrow's Indigenous leaders

NAQS Community Liaison Officer James Matthews with Broome Year 12 student John Bin Sulaiman.
The department has introduced Indigenous high school students from Broome, Western Australia, to the importance of biosecurity, including as a future career option for young Indigenous rangers.

Last month, James Matthews, a Community Liaison Officer with the department’s Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS), attended a Clontarf Foundation Partner’s Day in Broome. The Foundation aims to improve the education, discipline, life-skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of young Aboriginal men and currently caters for around 4,200 young men in 68 schools across Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

The Partners Day was attended by Year 12 students from the West Kimberley Clontarf Academy which supports students from Broome Senior High School and St Mary’s College, Broome. The event included a networking session with potential employers, including the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. Each student was paired with a potential employer to improve how the boys interact with potential employers or people they may have to deal with in a professional capacity.

Mr Matthews said he discussed with the boys what they wished to do after finishing school, giving them new ideas to think about and tips on how to establish networks.

“This was my first interaction with the West Kimberley Academy and the event created a positive platform for future engagement, such as work place visits and biosecurity presentations,” Mr Matthews said.  

“The event is annual and I thought the students behaved as mature young men, in part due to the strong mentors and leadership provided. Attending these events builds relationships with Aboriginal stakeholders ­– these young men may return to their respective communities to work as rangers or potentially to become community leaders.

“Introducing these fellows to the importance of biosecurity as early as possible increases the likelihood that they will become ambassadors for us in the future.”

Border finds - Mites with bite

Under the microscope, these dangerous mites found in Malaysian fruit were clear to see.

These mites are less than half a millimetre long, but they have the potential to cause major damage if they found their way into our environment. Biosecurity officers will normally seize all fresh fruit and destroy it, but they decided to look further into a consignment of fruit from Malaysia. The mites were only identified because they used microscopes to see if any risk was present. If insects are found, they can be sent to the entomology department and can be added to our library if the species are exotic and we do not have any samples.

Biosecurity isn't boaring

Finding a boar’s head looking out at you from a mail package is hardly something you would expect as a biosecurity officer. Luckily for the consignee, the taxidermy boar head from Russia was treated correctly and free from live animal tissue and any other biosecurity risk material. Nor was it subject to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). While it may not be to everyone’s taste, the boar head now has a new home in Australia.


Biosecurity officer shows how the boar head compares to human size.

Birth of a new jewellery trend

While inspecting the contents of a small white package, a biosecurity officer was surprised to discover a dried umbilical cord/placenta and a small plastic zip lock bag containing breast milk. Both items were being sent to a commercial jewellery maker who makes handmade DNA keepsake jewellery for new parents. Both items were covered by an import permit which is required for human fluids and tissues.


A biosecurity officer was surprised to find this dried umbilical cord/placenta.

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